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Small tortoiseshell butterfly by Charlotte Varela

Celebrating World Environment Day 2020

The food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the climate that makes our planet habitable all come from nature – and Greater Manchester is leading the way in all things green. In recent years, GM’s focus on the environment has made headlines and makes it one of only five UK cities to receive an A-list rating for their work on climate change.


This World Environment Day (Friday 5th June 2020), we want to celebrate all the fantastic environmental projects happening all across our city-region! So come along and take a look.


Natural environment


The State of Nature 2019 report revealed that, nationwide, we’ve seen a decrease in the abundance of our wildlife by 41% since 1970 and, in Greater Manchester, we have lost 98 per cent of our lowland raised bogs, creating a huge hole in our biodiversity in our region.


However, Greater Manchester has taken many positive steps to improve our wildlife levels and give nature the space it deserves.


The Manchester Argus butterfly

May saw the grand return of the Manchester argus butterfly to peatland across Greater Manchester, where it was last seen over 100 years ago.

Also known as the large heath butterfly, this interesting insect was once a common feature of Manchester’s mosses. However, due to the loss of its peatland habitat and the rise of intensive farming, it became extinct in its native area. A partnership with Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Chester Zoo has brought this butterfly back from the brink and home to Greater Manchester’s mosslands.


My Wild Garden

Last month, GMCA teamed up with Lancashire Wildlife Trust to put the My Wild Garden campaign into action. My Wild Garden helps people bring wildlife back to their gardens, backyards or balconies. No matter how small your space, you can always create a place for nature.


If everyone does one thing for wildlife, together we can make a real difference. Sign up to My Wild Garden to receive your free downloadable booklet of ideas on how to make your garden wild! 


Waste and recycling


Refill Greater Manchester

Aiming to drastically reduce plastic pollution through single use plastic bottles, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Untied Utilities have joined forces with Refill Manchester to make free tap water accessible throughout the region. If just 1 in 10 Brits Refilled once a week, we’d save around 340 million plastic bottles a year.


Refill scheme


The campaign already has local Refill Schemes in Sale, Altrincham, Tameside, Bolton, Bury, Ramsbottom and Romiley, run by fantastic volunteer Local Champions, and several fountains are being installed in the Bury Council area as part of a pilot scheme. Take a look at where to find your nearest water refilling station.


Recycle Right

Recycle4GM has been working hard to help the people of Greater Manchester recycle right. They are working with Bury, Rochdale and Stockport councils to make recycling plastic less confusing by promoting it’s #GotToBeABottle.


In GM, plastic bottles can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin. Please put all other plastics (pots, tubs and trays) in your general waste bin. Most people think their general waste goes to landfill but it doesn’t, it is used to make electricity


Take a look at this video to see what can be recycled in your bins across GM.


Resilience to climate change


The IGNITION project

IGNITION is a ground-breaking project that aims to develop innovative ways to fund and deliver green investment in Greater Manchester. This investment will help build the city region’s ability to adapt to the increasingly extreme impacts of climate change. This £5 million European-financed project will deliver innovative funding and the creation of nature-based solutions such as rain gardens, street trees, green roofs and walls and development of green spaces. These solutions will combat the effects of climate change in Greater Manchester by 10% by 2038.


Green wall at Deansgate


The IGNITION project kicked off in 2019 and has already created an evidence base for nature-based solutions. This database shows us the incredible effects of green infrastructure across the world and how it can revolutionise the way we think about building in our city-region. Find out more in Sam Hartley’s ‘Why We Need Green Roofs’ blog.


GM Solar Together

From 17th September 2019, GM residents can join Solar Together Greater Manchester, the solar photovoltaic (PV) group-buying scheme. Solar Together Greater Manchester helps homeowners feel confident that they are paying the right price for a high quality installation from a vetted installer which will boost local renewable energy generation.


It’s free to register and there is no obligation to install panels. The districts of Bolton, Bury, Manchester City, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan have partnered with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and the group-buying specialist, iChoosr Ltd, to bring this green energy opportunity to Greater Manchester’s homeowners.


Air quality


Walking and cycle routes

The temporary pedestrianisation of Deansgate has been met with high praise. This May, one of Manchester’s main thoroughfares was given over exclusively to cyclists and pedestrians. Removable barriers are being installed by Manchester City Council with plans to make this walking route a permanent fixture to Manchester’s city centre.


The great success of ‘e-cargo’ bikes for NHS staff during the coronavirus pandemic and the new Bee Networks, which plan to connect Greater Manchester on foot and bike, are already paving the way for safer cycling rules and routes. Further plans hope to bring 116km of pop-up cycle ways to Greater Manchester, not only helping people maintain social distancing but also stay fit and healthy, and make a positive environmentally friendly change in their transport habits.


There are so many other incredible project happening across the region now – here are just a few more. Why don’t you tell us your favourite on World Environment Day 2020!


  • Northern Roots – an exciting new eco-centre in Alexandra Park, Oldham
  • GrowGreen – bringing nature-based solutions to West Gorton, Manchester
  • RHS Bridgewater – the RHS brand new Salford-based development opening on 11th May 2021